By Taxi

The fact that Cairo taxi drivers rarely use meters makes life a bit more difficult for visitors, who are considered to be the best prey for the exorbitant fares that some drivers try to charge. The first rule is that you should not take any taxi parked in front of a hotel unless you bargain the price down before getting in. It is always cheaper to hail a taxi off the street after walking a few meters away from the hotel.

Fares vary according to the time you are in the taxi and the distance you cover. Early in the morning and very late at night, fares are about 40% to 50% higher than during daylight. During normal daylight hours and in the evening, a 20-minute cab ride from Maydan Tahrir to the Pyramids should cost about £E60 one-way; a 5- to 10-minute ride should cost no more than £E10. If you are going a long distance, such as all the way to Saqqara, the ride should be about £E100 one-way, and you should have the driver wait—it is extremely difficult to get a cab back to the city from there. With waiting this may push the price up to around £E230 to £E250.

Some drivers are extremely stubborn, so you must set a price before embarking on your ride to avoid unpleasant scenes once you arrive at your destination. When giving directions, name a major landmark near your destination (rather than a street address), such as Maydan Tahrir, or al-Azhar University. As you get closer to the destination, give more specifics; this will avoid confusion.

There are always taxis in the streets of Cairo; however, the condition of some of these taxis is dire, with mechanical defects and poor conditions inside. City Cabs operates a fleet of better-serviced vehicles with a distinctive yellow livery. If you find a friendly taxi driver who has a clean, air-conditioned car, stick with him. Negotiate a day rate of £E50–£E150 depending on your needs. Tip generously; a good driver will help you with many things in Cairo.

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